Born Minerva Murphy, Pauline Privilege was a singer and band-leader in the waning years of the Big Band Era. Not only a singer but also a lyricist and arranger, she was well known for her arrangements (some said re-arrangements) of such popular tunes as “I Can’t Get Started,” “Tipi-Tipi Time’s Up,” “One O’Clock Stump,” and “It’s Over.” She was a lively performer, interspersing her songs with comic patter and bad jokes. The name of her band, the Annulments, was both a running gag and an allusion to her Catholic upbringing.
Although Privilege was popular in her day, filling clubs all up and down the East Coast, she is little known now because she was never captured on record—and this despite signing contracts with numerous record companies over the course of her career. Stories differ as to why each business relationship fell through, but the partings were apparently amicable. After Privilege’s untimely death in 1957, her long-time lead trumpet player, John Groomsman, told the New York Times, “Pauline hated to be tied down. But she was a sweetheart, and always let you down easy.”